Content Style Guide - Substance

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Writing styles establish conventions that enable constructive collaboration and improved communication across articles on the site.

This article documents the PsychonautWiki "house style" for creating and maintaining written content. While it contains some information specific to the writing of substance breakdown articles, the guidelines it describes can, with the occasional exception, be taken to apply for all articles.

Writing style

  • Avoid loanwords (words in a language that are taken from another language without translation e.g. zeitgeist).
  • Avoid passive speech; be direct.
  • Avoid slang, vernacular and idioms.
  • Avoid addressing the reader at any point. Use the third person tense.
  • Avoid judgement, opinion and unfounded interpretation.
  • Avoid reports of self-experience outside of experience-reports.
  • Avoid using parenthetical clauses. Use separate sentences instead.
  • Prefer using as few words as possible to make a point.
  • Prefer marked, uncited recitation of original content: "..., reports suggest, ...,"[citation needed] "..., has been reported,"[citation needed] "Based on reports, it is likely that, ..., "[citation needed]
  • Prefer short alternatives to long words.
  • Prefer simple English: not all of our users are native speakers.
  • Prefer concise and approachable speech.

General principles

  • Accessibility: About 2/3rds of PsychonautWiki's traffic is made up of mobile users. Content should always be written in a way that is both scientifically accurate while at the same time understandable by the average person. One should assume the worst case -- that the readers are looking up a substance they just found out about on their phone while at a party, festival, or rave and need access to all the vital facts to help keep them from injuring themselves.
  • Neutrality: Remove all of your personal views on the topic when writing an article. Extensively consult dictionaries, thesauri, Google, Wikipedia, and similar PW substance pages to get an idea of how information should be formatted and presented. Resist all urges to glorify or promote substance use and stick with the facts as derived from the scientific and anecdotal literature.
  • Word economy: Do your best not to use any unnecessary space -- minimization is essential. Avoid including unnecessarily long sentences and paragraphs. Focus on the vital information, and then re-read it to see if you can word it in a way that saves space or makes it easier to digest. Each bit of space used should have a clear reason for it.
  • Readability: Readability is the ease with which a reader can understand a written text. Due to the nature of the modern attention span, the way the text is structured is vital. This mostly comes in the form of simple, concise sentences and properly spaced paragraphs. Nothing gets people to disengage faster than a wall of text in flowery language, especially while inebriated.
  1. A typical paragraph should be roughly four simple sentences in length. Use three if they are more complex sentences with long dependent clauses (parts of a sentence that cannot stand alone). It is acceptable sometimes to use shorter paragraphs if they express a self-contained thought.
  2. Minimize the use of dependent clauses or chains of independent clauses in a single sentence. Err on the side of sentence breaks, even if it may sound a little stuttery.
Example: Instead of using "In various studies, X has been shown to cause Y effect in some users, and this effect has been linked to various psychiatric conditions, as well as other negative effects on bodily organs." USE "Various studies have shown that X causes Y effect in some users. This effect has been linked to various psychiatric conditions as well as other adverse effects on bodily organs."
  • Tone: The tone for all articles on this wiki should be encyclopedic: formal, impersonal, and dispassionate.


Capital letters

  • Capitalization of article titles and section headers should include the first letter of the first word being a capital letter, but it should otherwise follow the normal English rules of capitalization. For example, a section title should be "External links" instead of "External Links."
  • Unless occurring at the beginning of a sentence, the names for substances should not be capitalized. Names in substance boxes should be capitalized.
  • The first letter of generic names of pharmaceutical drugs should be lower case while brand names must be capitalized. For example, Ambien is capitalized while zolpidem is not.

Word choices

Select the bolded words when faced with a choice between the two options.

  1. semisynthetic vs. semi-synthetic
  2. naturally occurring vs. naturally-occuring
  3. substance vs. drug (unless it is from a reference that explicitly uses the word 'drug')


Please become acquainted with the Wiki formatting markup.


Linking is usually limited to the first occurrence of the word or phrase in each article. This is because using too many wiki-links makes articles difficult to read. Adding multiple links for the same term may be acceptable in long articles in which linked instances of the term are very far apart.

Internal links

An internal link refers to a link to within a page that directs to another page found on the wiki. For example adding two brackets around a term like "serotonergic psychedelic" (serotonergic psychedelic) will link to the PsychonautWiki page on that entry.

Please make sure to keep internal links whole, so that does not include dangling letters or phrases.

Example: Instead of [[serotonergic psychedelic]]s USE [[serotonergic psychedelic|serotonergic psychedelics]]

Edit summaries

Every edit must include a concise, descriptive summary of what was changed and the reasoning or evidence behind it (if applicable). The exception to this is if it is marked as a "Grammatics" change, which we define as minor changes to grammar, formatting (e.g., adding a bracket or removing a line of space), or changes in word and phrasing that does not alter the original meaning of the text. We reserve the right to revert changes immediately and without comment to any change that lacks a commentary summary.

Please respect the edit summary spaces by not vandalizing them, using them to inject personal commentary or as a means of inviting community discussion. If one wishes to start a discussion about the change or article itself, they are welcome to use the page's "Talk" section, which can be accessed by clicking the tab labeled "Discussion" near the top left corner of the page.


Formatting conventions

Introduction template

Option one should be the default formatting for substances (one sentence). However, for substances with multiple effects of note that result in long sentences, please resort to the two sentence structure shown below.

  1. X (also known as Y, and Z) is a (novel vs. blank) (naturally occuring / semisynthetic / blank) (insert psychoactive class) substance of the (insert chemical class) chemical class that produces a, b, c effects when administered.


  1. 3-MeO-PCP (also known as 3-MeO-PCP, and 3-MeO) is a novel dissociative substance of the arylcyclohexylamine chemical class that produces dissociative, stimulating and hallucinogenic effects when administered.

Basic pharmacology/classification info

  1. X is a member of the 3T-D family of substances, which include substances like 3T-P, 3T-O, and 3T-H. It is believed to produce its effects via dopamine reuptake inhibition, although this has yet to be scientifically confirmed.

Brief history

The compound was first synthesized in 1979 to investigate the structure-activity relationship of DZT derivatives. The activity of XXX in humans was not described until 1999 when a chemist using the pseudonym John Q. Beagle wrote that XXX was qualitatively similar to YYY with comparable potency.[5]

Unique/relevant aspects

Like other substances of its class, particularly DAF and XCA, it primarily [induces vs. produces] a state referred to as "mega fucked up," albeit the extent to which this occurs is highly dose-dependent and variable in effect. (Description of distinguishing properties compared to other substances?) Its most common routes of administration include oral, sublingual or nasal administration. (Remark on common RoAs if relevant)

Modern relevance

(In modern times vs. Today) XXX is rarely sold on the streets and almost exclusively distributed as a gray area research chemical by online vendors, where it is commonly used for recreational and entheogenic purposes.

Warning and HR disclaimer (esp. if RC)

Due to its potent X and Y effects, reported habit-forming properties as well as unknown toxicity profile, it is strongly recommended that one use proper harm reduction practices if choosing to use this substance.

Flag template types

Flags (or tags) are templates that can be appended to text to signify a need for verification, revision, or other purposes. The most common kind is the missing citation flag or "cite flag" that appears in the form of [citation needed] wherever {{citation needed}} is added in the raw text for an article.

The various kinds of flags available for use are listed below:

Flag type Purpose
{{citation needed}} Statement is missing citation
{{clarify}} Statement needs clarification
{{opinion}} Statement is an opinion
{{overly specific}} Statement is overly specific or graphic
{{imperative}} Statement uses imperative speech